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Afghanistan needs $1.9 billion to become self-sufficient in food production

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By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said that Afghanistan needs $1.9 billion to become self-sufficient in food production.

Minister of the MAIL, Assadullah Zamir, in an interview with Afghanistan Times said that Afghanistan will become self-sufficient in food production by 2022, if the international donors provided the ministry $1.9 billion.  He also urged the government to allocate enough budgets to the ministry to implement its plan of moving Afghanistan towards self-reliance.

“Based on the plan, the ministry will invest in three areas including: expansion of irrigation system, distribution of improved seeds, and development arable land,” he added.

He pointed out that the MAIL needs $1.5 billion for improvement of irrigation system and needs $400 million for distribution of improved seeds to farmers.

Terming investment in the agriculture sector as need of the hour, Zamir said that Afghanistan currently import $800 million wheat from neighboring countries.

“Afghanistan needs six million tons of wheat annually, out of which 4.5 million tons of wheat is produced inside the country,” he added.

Zamir said that wheat products have increased by five percent as comparing the past year.

“Last we have produced 4.3 million tons wheat, while this year the figure rose to 4.5 million,” he asserted.

The MAIL criticized that no budget was allocated for distribution of improved seeds to farmers last year. Zamir said that they need $10 million to purchase 6,000 tons of certified wheat seeds this year.

Officials in the MAIL said that they have spent 5.7 percent of its development budget so far. They vowed to spend 65 percent of the budget till end of this year.

Economical analysts believe that improvement of agriculture sector can play an important role in steering Afghanistan towards self-sufficiency. They urged the government to pay special attention to the sector.